How Roberto Garza Gamez Created a Piano Virtuoso for I Wish
Artists propel each other to new heights. Creativity is like a fire that begins with an initial spark that ignites others. This explanation certainly applies to the film I Wish. This 2016 production is worth your time due it’s highly original perspective. Filmmaker Zixian Ouyang is known for his unusual concepts and plots. The second film which he has worked on with composer Roberto Garza Gamez, I Wish is the tale of a virtuoso pianist who uses a magical piano to time travel. The subject matter seems particularly ripe for a consummate composer such as Gamez and he proves this to be accurate with a film score which propels the emotion of the characters in this story. Balanced perfectly with the imagery of DP Johanna Coelho (also of Primetime Emmy Nominated series The Rookie starring People’s Choice Award Winner Nathan Fillion), the music of I Wish is both deeply organic and fantastical. Roberto’s moving compositions tether the unbelievable moments to the common feelings we all share with the characters of the story, thus lulling us into that magical place where we accept the unthinkable as realistic.
As an acclaimed composer (nominated for his score of the Sci-Fi film Daisy, among others) and musician, Mr. Garza Gamez felt an instant connection with the story of a virtuosic musician but his job was to connect the audience to this scenario. He states, “In general, the director wanted music that sounded virtuosic, as the main character in the film is supposed to be a very talented pianist who performs complicated pieces of music. The music also had to be very romantic and emotional, with a focus on memorable melodies. While some of the musical pieces were very fast paced, others were slow and more melancholic. Zixian gave me examples of the style of music he wanted but I had to write music that communicated the passion and emotions of the main character. It was paramount to write music that allowed a transfer of what the character felt rather than just creating a mood for each scene.” This challenge intrigued Roberto, as did another requirement of his role on the film. He describes, “A significant portion of the music would have to be composed before the movie was even filmed. This was because Zixian wanted the main actor to practice and try to learn how to act the music as if he was performing it for real. Because the film’s plot would revolve so much on the music it had to be composed first, as the cameras would also need to focus on realism and record the actor as if he was playing the piano. Having the music first would aid a great deal in bringing a sense of realism.” Garza Gamez continues, “Luckily for us, the main actor knew a little about music and was able to understand the basics. Zixian asked me if I could spend time with him to teach him how it was supposed to look when he performed these musical pieces on camera. This also meant that I was called to be on set when the film was shot. In some ways, I had to assume the role of music supervisor, to make sure the actor’s hands looked realistic as he placed them for the shot. I also helped by playing some parts, so that the cameras could record specific shots of the internal parts of the piano moving.”
In addition to the diegetic music in the film, Roberto composed the underscore music of I Wish which lays an emotional foundation for the various scenes throughout the story. This holistic approach to the music of I Wish never touts the impressive qualities of the music over the relationship ups & downs of the couple central to the story. However, when the music does take centerstage, it’s quite apparent that its creator is a masterful writer and technician. Roberto’s contributions to this production resemble that of an actor who is able to serve as both leading man and character actor. It’s highly accurate to say that the music of I Wish is itself the star of this film. Roberto confesses that he was enthralled with a production like this which blurred the lines between musician and actor in numerous ways. He remarks, “There was such intense and constant collaboration between myself, the actor, and the director. There was a fierce commitment to making it extremely believable that this character was performing these complicated musical pieces. When artists are striving to reach for the very best, something truly extraordinary can be achieved and I feel that this film proves that.”
Writer: Winston Scott